Joseph Kessels [JoK], Barry Nyhan [BNy], Kiran Trehan [KT]
So there are a number of issues we would like to discuss with you. First
of all, we are interested whether this is a problem for you. Is there something
we could do in a European context?
There are some formalities. For instance, according to the Bologna agreement,
a Bachelor degree stands for 180 European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)
points, and one European Credit Transfer System point stands for approximately
40 hours of full-time study or something like 200 papers literature research.
A Masters programme stands for 60 (ECTS) international or European credit
transfer points. That gives you these quantitative ideas.
For the universities that ECT System will be important in their exchange
of students. For instance, if we want to send students of our university
at Twente to Oxford: what is the Oxford programme worth while in terms
of European credit transfer points. So that's the need for a more formal
approach from the boards of universities.
For us, in the meantime, it could help us to nurture a discussion on several
issues. If you take a high standard programme on Masters level dealing
with education, learning development, human resource development, what
do you look for: Do you look for these more formal aspects? Is there some
benchmark on international academic standards? Do we have in the domain
of HRD specific standards that we would like? Do we want to get involved
in the whole discussion of standards? Do we prefer a more output oriented
approach? How do we deal with new developments in many universities, such
as work on portfolios, a more competence based approach? Or do we still
base our programmes on 19th century subject matter topics?
So when we would like to cooperate we would have to discuss these things
and try to find out: Is there in the University Forum a platform of interested
colleagues who have a responsibility for Masters programmes to collaborate
on that? And that is very much where I would like to invite you and hear
your opinion about this.
We run a Masters degree in Strategic Human Resources. It was Euresform
accredited in the early days; John Walton came and actually helped shape
that. We have done this in terms of the individual students. We just put
that in addition to their course field, and that hasn't caused many problems.
But the key point I really wanted to make was: It is interesting hearing
the kind of language of accreditation, standards, quality and control.
That discourse is often very off-putting for people like myself because
it feels like yet more control and yet more conformity. I am wondering
whether there is something about the language that we use that actually
doesn't do us justice.
You have just stolen my point! I am working for Cedefop, which is an European
agency. The EU is pushing us, to a certain extent: all these qualification
frameworks on the vocational side, which is different again to the university
side. I am quite concerned about this massive move towards standardisation.
I think universities are saying we have to do it, in order to be funded.
Governments, too, are pushing it, to control, to get value for money, which
is the current kind of discourse everywhere. But I think that people at
our level are kind of reconciling to this movement that is coming, and
how we can best cope with it, preserve our professional integrity.
You put forward your definition of HRD, which is kind of corporate and
company focused. This is probably the way that I would begin to look at
HRD. I think in universities it's ridiculous that there is no cooperation
between education departments, teacher training, adult education departments
and business schools. Basically they are all addressing the same fundamental
objectives. This to me is the real problem, the heart of the issue.
I know that there has been the EQUIS movement, I don't know how this relates,
and the EFMD (www.efmd.be/equis/equisnot.htm). There are also lots of business
schools over the world, which are following a very uniform, kind of standardised,
normative model that has come from the excellent business schools in the
US. They are very much into business, one sector of the economy. They are
not looking at the educational policy and the field of vocational education.
They are splitting off the workers from a kind of management development.
So there's lots of questions. My conclusion is that the role of this group
here and the University Forum is to try and create some sort of framework
within which different groups of people could communicate. There is for
instance a vocational education department at this university, dealing
with training of carpenters and mechanics. I don't think there is any communication
with the department of employment and personnel development, even though
this school is called after Jim Kemmy, who was a stonemason. He was a very
interesting man, but he might be horrified that a business school was called
after somebody who was very much socialist in his orientation.
I know that it may not be very practical what I'm saying, but this is just
a general comment.
That's what I am saying: We should take this advantage of the European
movement towards accreditation of the higher education system to start
talking to each other, to cooperate and try to inform each other. So it's
a good movement to this end.